How to Install a Portable Air Conditioner and Heat Pump

Learn how to install a portable air conditioner or a heat pump at home, fast and easy. How to install the AC/heat pump using the window kit on the sliding windows and doors.

What is a portable air conditioner (heat pump)

Portable AC and heat pumpPortable AC

Portable air conditioners are a great alternative to central and window-type air conditioners as they allow homeowners to control the temperature and quality of home air.

These appliances can heat, cool and dehumidify the air mostly inside one room, and with the built-in caster wheels and handles can be quickly moved from one place to another. Due to its small and lightweight size, the AC can be stored away when not in use.

What comes in a package

The air conditioner/heat pump comes with the attached electrical cord and following parts, that are included in the package, making installation easy and fast: exhaust hoses, hose connectors, window and extension panels with the hardware.

How to install a portable air conditioner using the window kit

During the installation, the most time-consuming job is to set the vent system (also easy work). This is important because when the AC is working in the air conditioning mode and cooling the surrounding air, it generates the heat at the same time, which has to be removed from the room, and directed to the outside atmosphere. Also, for the proper operation, a device is using the fresh air delivered either from the surrounding air (one-hose system) or from the outside atmosphere (dual-system).

It is easy to install a portable AC using a window kit. The purpose of a kit is to provide an opening for the AC exhaust to the outside atmosphere, but without making any permanent changes on the windows, doors or walls. It will work best with the sliding windows and doors.

When you buy a new portable air conditioner, you will get a window kit which comes with two sliding panels and hardware (nuts and bolts). The panels should insert into each other and tighten with the bolts and nuts so you can adjust the total length, and therefore accommodate to a different window or door sizes. They can be installed on horizontally or vertically sliding windows.

If planning to use a kit with the sliding door, you have two options; one is to buy a kit with three sliding panels or use the provided window type (2-piece set) and make a third piece to fill the space, which can be made of wood, cardboard or Plexiglas. These panels are installed vertically. It is recommended to make a connection between the panels and door frame using the self-adhesive tape or Velcro, allowing you to open the sliding door without disassembling the kit.

In both cases, you just have to measure the lengths of the window or sliding door opening and adjust the panel length. If it is needed, cut the panels to the right height/length.

Once the panels are in place, attached the foam seal tape (included) from one end to the other end of the panels, so it can fill the gap between the panel and closed door/window. The seal will prevent any bugs or rain coming in, or energy waste.

Note: If you are installing a portable air conditioner in a room without the sliding doors or windows you could run the vent through the ceiling, exterior wall, chimney or into an attic. For any of these methods, check the building code, or with the professional.

If you want your portable AC to keep running during the night, or when at work, but you are concern about the safety and that someone can get in by opening the door, install the adjustable security bar between the sliding door and the frame, so the door cannot open.

Note: Portable air conditioners could have one or two hoses, so the corresponding kits will also have one or two adapters on the panels.

Install the hose

Once the window or sliding door kit is in place, you want to install an AC hose (provided). One end of the hoe must be attached to the unit (it usually snaps in or screws on), while the other end to the door duct adapter located on the provided panel.

If you want to install a dual-hose air conditioner and the panel is positioned vertically, always install the exhaust vent above the air intake hose.

The hoses are supplied with the AC, and they are made of the flexible material so you can extend the length, to its maximum. The length is set by the manufacturer and should not be longer as it could affect the performance and void the warranty. The best is to keep the length to a minimum required, as straight as possible, without any sharp turns and sags.

Location – Dos and Don’ts

The best location for the portable AC is on the floor, in front of the window or sliding door, but close to the electrical outlet. Since the unit comes with the electrical cord that has a specific length, the location is pretty much predefined. Some manufacturers do not recommend using the extension cord and adapters.

The recommendation is to have the unit at least 20” away from the wall for proper ventilation. This will include front, back, and side clearance.

Ensure that the airflow is not obstructed by plants, curtains, blinds, furniture, door, and other objects.

Do not place the unit on the raised or unstable objects, on its back or sides.

Avoid areas where it can be exposed to direct sunlight or heat source, as it will affect its performance and due to the hard work, shorten the lifespan.

Avoid humid areas since the unit will work longer and create more condensate.

Installation guide

Required tools

  • Set of screwdrivers
  • Power drill
  • Pliers
  • Hacksaw
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Instructions

  • Place the AC on the flat floor in the upright position.
  • Install the panels into the window or door opening.
  • Install the tube adapter on the window bracket (panel) using the provided screws.
  • Install the tube adapter on the hose.
  • Attach one end of the hose to the AC unit and other to the window adapter on the panel.
  • Make sure the connection is secured.
  • Plug the unit into a dedicated power outlet.
  • Turn the unit ON, using the power button.

Note: If the portable AC was laying on its back or sides during transportation, place it in the upright position, so the refrigerant inside the device gets into the right spot. Wait for a few hours before turning the unit ON.

Tips:

  • Make sure nothing is blocking the vents.
  • Ensure that the unit is installed in the upright position and on the level floor.
  • When the unit is in the cooling mode, a direct drain is not needed.

What to expect while the AC is running

Once the air conditioner is installed and running, you might hear some odd sounds.

At the top of the unit, while the fan is running, you might hear a sound of rushing air.

In the high-efficiency devices and during the cooling mode you could hear high pitched chatter.

While the refrigerant is passing through the evaporator, you could hear a gurgling or hissing sound.

If the unit is placed on the uneven floor, you can expect some vibration.

Most of today’s portable air conditioners come with the more-less control panels and a remote controller that you use to run the unit and set the parameters. The main purpose of the control panel is to turn the unit ON or OFF and change the temperature settings.

You could also put the unit in auto, cool, dry, heat or fan mode; put it in sleep; change the fan speed, enable louver swing, set the time and other useful things.

While the unit is operating in the dry mode, you will need a garden hose to drain the condensate from the unit – if you want to have continuous drainage. You just have to attach one end of the hose into the provided hole on the unit (behind the drain cap) and the other end into a drain that is lower than the unit.

Conclusion

To ensure the proper work and long life of the portable air conditioner, heat pump or any other device, proper installation and maintenance is essential and must comply with the manufacturer’s instructions. 

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